Journey Through Isaiah: 38:9-22
New King James Version
9 This is the writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:
“In the prime of my life
I shall go to the gates of Sheol;
I am deprived of the remainder of my years.”
“I shall not see [a]Yah,
The Lord in the land of the living;
I shall observe man no more [b]among the inhabitants of [c]the world.
My life span is gone,
Taken from me like a shepherd’s tent;
I have cut off my life like a weaver.
He cuts me off from the loom;
From day until night You make an end of me.
I have considered until morning—
Like a lion,
So He breaks all my bones;
From day until night You make an end of me.
Like a crane or a swallow, so I chattered;
I mourned like a dove;
My eyes fail from looking upward.
O [d]Lord, I am oppressed;
[e]Undertake for me!
“What shall I say?
[f]He has both spoken to me,
And He Himself has done it.
I shall walk carefully all my years
In the bitterness of my soul.
O Lord, by these things men live;
And in all these things is the life of my spirit;
So You will restore me and make me live.
Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
For Sheol cannot thank You,
Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.
The living, the living man, he shall praise You,
As I do this day;
The father shall make known Your truth to the children.
“The Lord was ready to save me;
Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments
All the days of our life, in the house of the Lord.”
21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.”
22 And Hezekiah had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”
What we are about to read is a song of praise unto the Lord after Hezekiah faced terminal illness and the Lord brought forth healing. For anyone who has ever received a diagnosis that death was near it can be overwhelmingly terrifying. At thirty-nine years of age this hit Hezekiah like a freight train. But it is often in very hard and difficult things that the Lord teaches us the greatest lessons. It is in these seasons that the Lord does a work in us that teaches us to truly value things that often we overlook and take for granted.
Hezekiah is thirty-nine years old. He is in the prime of his life. Before receiving this word from Isaiah that he would die, Hezekiah thought maybe he would recover and thought about all the things that were ahead for him. For most men there is something very significant that happens when a man reaches forty years of age and beyond. You become much more reflective in your life and it is the wisdom that is gained that carries you to live a life of significance and influence.
These were many of the things that went through the heart and mind of Hezekiah as he thought about the days ahead. Now all of that seemed to be crashing down and erased because of the death sentence that has been pronounced over his life. But even if the greatest physician in the world gives us a sentence of death, we must hold fast to God and His promises. We must remember that Jesus is the author of Life. He always has the final word. When we bring anything before God in prayer, even a terminal diagnosis, it is God alone who has the power to intervene and extend our lives.
Hezekiah speaks of the brevity of his life. We must remember today we are reading these words on the other side of the cross. Before the cross the Messiah had not come. They did not have a full understanding of Heaven. Hezekiah speaks of being removed from the land of the living. There was much uncertainty about what existed on the other side of death. But Hezekiah trusted the Lord and it is our trust in the Lord that saves us and sustains us. We must remember that Abraham was declared righteous by faith.
A shepherd's tent could be quickly set up and taken down. Being cut off from the loom means removing the fabric before it is completed. Hezekiah is mourning his life being cut short. At thirty-nine years of age he is looking ahead to what he will yet still accomplish for the Lord. Now faced with death and a terminal illness it seems that all is lost.
Many today have experienced these same feelings. Even as Christians when we are presented with a terminal illness, even though we know we will live forever in God’s kingdom and heaven, we may still mourn all that we may miss out on here on the earth. Especially if we have a spouse or we are a parent of children. The thought of leaving this earth early may crush us. But we must trust the Lord. We must always remember that no matter the report that comes, the Lord shall have the final word.
Hezekiah says I have considered until morning or in the NASB it states I composed my soul until morning. When Hezekiah received this word of his death and his life being cut short, it crushed him. Every moment seemed like an eternity. Being able to simply get through the night was a struggle and challenge.
Hezekiah says like a lion the Lord breaks all my bones, from day until night you make an end of me. We see the raw emotions and feelings of all that Hezekiah is experiencing. If you came into a relationship with Jesus thinking that it was going to be easy, you were given false information. Following Jesus and trusting God is not easy, but God is faithful. Though we are pressed and we are refined, the Lord will always show Himself faithful.
Hezekiah says he is oppressed. His eyes fail from looking upward. He is a man who has lost all hope and knows that his only hope is the Living God. But what we must recognize here is that Hezekiah doesn’t curse God. He doesn’t turn his back on God. He understands that God is His source and His salvation. That his hope is in the Lord alone. For all those who hope in the Lord they shall never be put to shame.
After receiving the word from Isaiah that the Lord would give him an additional fifteen years it has impacted far deeper and greater than Hezekiah understands. Most men during their twenties and their thirties believe themselves to be indestructible. But this has caused Hezekiah to reflect. He says I shall walk carefully all my years in the bitterness of my soul. Hezekiah is a man who will never be the same. For many this is the result when they come to a circumstance in their lives that affects them to their very core.
It is God who will restore Hezekiah and make him live. Hezekiah has called out to the Lord in His trouble. God has heard from on high and He has answered. So many times in life we may think God is too big to be concerned with the affairs of our lives. But God cares deeply. He meets every need. When we respond in faith and bring all things before Him in prayer, the Lord will answer.
God has delivered the soul of Hezekiah. The Lord has forgiven Hezekiah. Hezekiah was bitter because of the welfare of his own life. The thought of his life being cut short rocked him to his core. But it is God who is always our peace. No matter what we face, the Lord extends His hand and simply calls us to trust Him. The more we hold fast to the Lord, the more we are strengthened for all that we will face.
The hard and difficult time Hezekiah had gone through had impacted him for the rest of his life. He says Sheol cannot thank you. Sheol was the place of the dead. Those who lived before the cross has an imcomplete understanding of eternity. It was not until after Jesus had died and risen again that the way of salvation was made sure. Those who died before the cross with faith in the one true Living God went to be in Abraham’s bosom. It was a place of rest and peace. When Christ died he went and took all those from Abraham’s bosom and brought them into Heaven. We must remember that God declared Abraham righteous by faith, not by keeping the law. Even under the Old Testament salvation was dependent on faith and not keeping the law. The law was actually put in place to reveal man’s need for a savior (Galatian 3:19-26).
Hezekiah continues saying “death cannot praise you, those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth”. Hezekiah is speaking of being separated from those who were living on the earth who had the ability to praise God. He didn't fully understand that life didn’t cease to end after death and that indeed he would still be able to praise the Lord. Often in this life we don’t truly appreciate what God has given us and life itself until our health is seriously affected. Often when God allows us to go through suffering of any kind it always carries a greater purpose. We may seek God for healing and healing may not come right away. Let us remember that Paul prayed three times for the thorn in the flesh to be removed and the response from God was “my grace is sufficient for thy” (2 Corinthians 12:8). The purposes and ways of God are often far greater and higher for us to understand. But we must bring all things before the Lord seeking His will and His desire.
There is a wonderful opportunity in sharing the truth of God with our children. The greatest way to do this is to live a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. Our children may hear the words we say, but more than that they watch the conduct of our lives. Hezekiah says the “the living man, he shall praise you”. Hezekiah again is focused on his life ending early. He is crying out to God for God to intervene and heal him. Let us never believe for one second that God does not hear us. He indeed hears us and moves at the prayers of His people.
There is no greater joy when God moves according to our prayers and we see break through. Hezekiah cried out to God when he received news that he would die. He was overwhelmed with grief. He wept before the Lord. The Lord heard from on high and the Lord extended. Now for all his days Hezekiah would sing this song unto the Lord. Often the people of Israel would write songs after great deliverance. It was a wonderful reminder of the faithfulness and greatness of God. It is a wonderful thing when we find ourselves in a hard and difficult season to remember how God has moved in our lives in the past. To examine His word and see His faithfulness over and over again. He has given us countless examples of how He has faithfully moved in the hearts of people.
Isaiah tells the servants to make a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil. We see here that God heals through the application of a medicinal agent. It is important to understand that God brings forth healing in many ways. Many times when we seek God for healing we are looking for a miraculous event. But the truth is that miracles are happening around us every day. Hezekiah had this applied to the boil and he recovered.
We know that sign by which Hezekiah would recover was the shadow on the sundial moving back 10 degrees. This was a supernatural sign by the Lord. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There are those today who still seek a sign from God at times concerning different decisions. The great thing about God is that He desires that we seek Him. He desires to reveal His will to us. To understand His plans and purposes simply requires that we ask Him.